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Three Pieces of the Pie

Three Pieces of the Pie

Written by: Nick Elbourne (Geography, 2009)

The Importance of Being Idle


The pie has three pieces. Each piece is important. 

This story is one day in the life of Leonard Richardson.  


Piece 1. Work

Activity involving mental or physical effort done in order to achieve a result.

'He was tired after a day's work in the library.'

Leonard enters the Hallward Library at 8:00. He sometimes starts earlier on other days but this isn’t other days; this is the day. The library is busy already. Normally his seat is free but today a guy, early twenties, scraggly ugly looking beard looks like he is here to stay. Textbooks piled high. Some people just don’t suit beards. Leonard considers it a temporary fad. Get a shave mate. 

Leonard takes off his bag and finds a seat further along the same bank of desks. Before anything else he walks over to the coffee shop, queues up and asks for the same drink he does every other day. Hazelnut Latte, regular. More milk please. It is only then that he can get down to business. 

Work to Leonard is something that he takes very seriously; no music with earplugs, no mobile phone to distract him. He rarely likes to tell anyone else where he’ll be, even if he does sit generally at the same desk.

Leonard likes to have a window seat overlooking Portland Hill but his focus is not on people watching. 

Leonard works on the job in hand; the one that has been playing on his mind for some time. He knows that the work he is doing might be at a slight tangent and he is still a little unsure where to start, but all this research must give him an edge. Everyone has a degree these days. Any advantage which will help him achieve his ambitions. Since beginning University it had become clearer to Leonard what he intends to do, what he wants to study. Teachers offered suggestions to him at school; each with their own bias but none of their subjects offered him the exhilaration that he was seeking. Leonard leaves the library for a quick sandwich and then returns, working hard until 4pm. It’s getting dark and Leonard knows that the time has come. 


Piece 3… Sleep

A condition of body and mind which typically recurs for several hours every night, in which the nervous system is inactive, the eyes closed, the postural muscles relaxed, and consciousness practically suspended.

‘A good night's sleep’

The third piece of the pie is sleep.

Returning home Leonard is exhausted but he smiles broad-faced like a Cheshire cat knowing that he could not have performed any better. The bedside clock strikes midnight and he knows that the following day won’t be the same. Something has changed and he will live with the consequences of this. Leonard takes to his diary and notes down what he feels is important. It doesn’t take long for Leonard to drop off. 

In the days leading up to today Leonard’s mind was full of excitement and of fear, wondering what might happen if he didn’t execute his plan. Practice makes perfect. Knowing that he would come home to an empty house this evening was part of the plan. 

Leonard met his housemate in Fresher’s week but after a year of drinking and fooling around, he realised that he needed a change. 

To an outsider Leonard would appear to be a loner but he didn’t need regular contact with other students. He had found his pastime in the year that followed in the unlikeliest of places. His friend, realising Leonard’s increasing preference for spending time elsewhere, made a swift beeline for another group of students which Leonard knew but didn’t enjoy spending time with. In many ways, this worked out for the best. As Leonard slept, his body didn’t convulse or roll from side to side; he didn’t dream. His body relaxed and his mind was finally clear. 


Piece 2.. Idle

(Of a person) avoiding work; lazy.

‘Idle students’

Of the three pieces of the pie, at the outset, idle appears the least interesting and the least studied. Nothing about the word idle warms you to it. However it’s the part that you’ve been looking forward to right? Something that makes you sit up, think OK, now what? This is when, on that day, Leonard was at his most effective. 

Idleness can describe anything you want it to. It can be an adjective or a verb. Most people see it as time wasted but should a human simply work and sleep and do nothing else, then surely that is also a waste. Without purpose of effect, pointless. Idleness is when the magic happens. It is the time of the day when you can down tools and enjoy yourself and that is exactly what Leonard did on that day. Leonard walked home from the library quickly, apprehensive but ready for the challenge. His time had come and he knew what he needed to do. 

What Leonard did next is important, but knowing the full details, the nitty gritty is really quite unimportant. Leonard was confident and was able to express himself in a way that he knew others wouldn’t. He played to his strengths and he was able to succeed and that really that is the take home message. Should you be as fortunate as Leonard to fulfil what they set out to do then surely this is why we are all here. Living, breathing beings able to make decisions and take action and choose to act. 

As the saying goes, Keep On Keeping On. 

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